When it came to sports, Sam Gilman tried them all — soccer, basketball, baseball, football — but the things that made him excel on the pitch, the court, the diamond, and the gridiron were his speed and endurance.
So, when it was time to focus on one sport, Gilman became a runner. And what a runner he has become.
After a standout career as a cross country and track star at Hilton Head Island High School, Gilman has earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he will continue his running career.
Gilman earned all-America honors in March with a fifth-place finish in the mile — with a blazing time of 4 minutes, 10 seconds — at New Balance Indoor Nationals, where he also won the 800-meter race in the Emerging Elite division with a time of 1:52.49.
In May, he wrapped up his stellar high school career with state titles in the 800 and 1,600 — his third and fourth individual state titles in track to go along with an individual cross country title in 2017.
We caught up with Gilman — no easy task — to get some inside information on this stellar student-athlete.
Name: Sam Gilman
How did you get started in your sport?: I got started with cross country when I was in fourth grade. My dad took me and my brother to a local road race 5K. We had never really run before so it was quite an experience. My brother and I ended up running 21:30s. We had no idea if that was good or not, but our dad was excited so we were too. I didn’t really begin training until my freshman year. I switched schools from Hilton Head Christian Academy to Hilton Head Island High School my freshman year and the rest is history.
What’s your proudest moment as a runner?: I would say getting second behind my brother at the state cross country meet my sophomore year was a great moment. I would also say that setting the state record in the distance medley relay and the 4x1600 were also great moments. Running the fastest mile indoors in South Carolina history (4:10) and becoming all-American is probably my proudest moment, though.
What other sports did you play as a kid?: I played anything and everything I could. I played soccer, basketball, baseball, football. EVERYTHING! I tried to balance baseball and track my freshman year but it was too much, so after my 9th-grade year, I focused totally on running.
What’s your favorite snack before and after a workout or competition?: I like eating bananas before I run. After I run, I like the Gatorade protein bars.
What’s your favorite school subject?: History
What advice do you have for kids who want to get into competitive running?: For young kids that are just starting running, be patient and have fun. A term I came up with the past couple years is bi-polar running. It’s a term I used for when I was being inconsistent with my training or having mental struggles. I reminded myself that it’s important to be consistent with your running. When you run bi-polar, and you let any small injury or bump in the road throw you off, you lose your way and it makes it very difficult to train.
Justin Jarrett is the CEO of LowcoSports.com, president of Bluffton Youth Sports, co-founder of Lowcountry Wrestling Club, and a dedicated youth sports coach.